Friday, October 31, 2008

moments of beauty

It's been a bit of a challenging week - too many doctor's visits for various unpleasant things, getting used to a puppy in the house, several birthdays to organise , daycare arrangements falling through due to ill carers - blah blah blah. But there have been some lovely moments and I am trying to relax and enjoy them.

The new puppy has been mostly a joy and amazingly gentle and well behaved for a baby of just 10 weeks who must be missing his mum and his brothers and sisters. He is managing without the ticking clock at night but still finds comfort in a hot water bottle. Taking him outside regularly (he mostly lives in the laundry) is a bit of a challenge with no front fence and a toddler in the house who shrieks "Take me too. Pick me up. Prickles!". Several times, upon having to hurry home from school drop off in case of accidents in the laundry, my heart has sunk and I have thought "Oh...what have I done?". But my little girl melts my heart when she puts her face down near Kipper's and says in her gentle voice "Hello sweetheart". And when I asked my big girl if she would be in charge of Kipper's water bowl, she added "And I can be in charge of love".

In the midst of all the crazy cleaning up and buying pet mince and organising of the household, I stopped for a few minutes yesterday and sat outside watching little Kipper gamble (gambol?) about on the grass like a lamb. I suddenly realised, I can get stressed about the extra work of having a puppy, but then I can let that stress melt away while I sit on the step and do nothing in the sunshine.

Other moments of joy this week........walking to work from the station this morning in the crush of commuters, I saw the back of a little girl, holding hands with her Daddy. She was wearing fairy wings and a tiara and holding a sparkly wand. It was such a beautiful sight. And the flowering jacaranda trees are just so breathtakingly gorgeous. They make the city look enchanted. Purple flowers fell on our heads like lavender snow yesterday when we were walking to school.

The clincher came tonight as I was walking home from the railway station. I looked up and saw a gorgeous golden crescent moon in the sky like a boat, hovering below the evening star. I watched it all the way home and it gave my soul a little boost.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kipper comes to live with us

The puppy came to live with us today. Mr Darcy that was has been rechristened Kipper by E. I think the dogs at the dog park will laugh a little less at that than at "Twinkletoes". So far, he has been exceedingly well behaved, apart from a few nibbles at my feet and E's shoes. He is heartmeltingly cute....such an endearing little face and very very soft ears like little brown silk purses. Yes...we are all smitten...although G. likes to keep her distance and occasionally says "A bit scary a me".
Kipper has been installed in his quarters (the laundry) and taken outside regularly where he has dutifully done his business. He put himself to bed about 7.15pm in his new cardboard box bed that has his blanket from "home" in it. I hope the smells of his six siblings are comforting him a little. At 7.45pm, the five year old had crashed (she was up at 5am with excitement) and we thought "Great. This is easy. Only the two year old to go". About 8pm, Kipper had woken up, done a wee on the newspaper and was whimpering for company. Every time I leave the room, he cries. So...I've done the age old trick - a warm hot water bottle wrapped in a t shirt and a clock wrapped in another one.
He has left his cardboard box, preferring to sleep on the old kiddy sofa that we put in the laundry so E. could cuddle him in comfort. I've moved the hot water bottle to the little sofa next to him and now all is quiet.

So...I'm going to clean my teeth and hit the hay. It could be a very long night.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The pangs and joys of a working mother

I went to work today for the first time in two weeks due to G's drawn out bout of tonsilitis. Poor wee thing cried when I left her with her wonderful family day care person. It sure tugs at my heartstrings to leave her when she wants to be with me. But....I know she will be ok in a minute or two and when I rang to check she was happily cutting out stickers.

On route to work, I read "Brideshead Revisited" for 25 minutes on the train. escape to another world for a little while - especially 1920s Oxford. I was a nanny for a short time in the 1980s in Oxford so could picture most of the action in my head of which streets they were wandering down etc. Mind you, being a nanny was a slightly different experience from "reading English" at Oxford. I used to sit next to well spoken English girls on the bus coming back from London and try not to turn green with envy. It all helped to motivate me to head off to University myself when I got home.

After my sojourn with Charles and Sebastian on the 8.20am train, I spent the next eight hours happily researching old buildings at work. Although I have been doing this for some 13 years, it is still a thrill for me to sit down with only an address and a printout of a map and start the detective work. One of my favourite bits is looking at the old postal records and finding out who lived where and what they did for a living. Occupations have changed so much. (Not too many blacksmiths working the city these days)

I also had 30 whole minutes to eat my lunch in peace and time to wander down to the shops to buy fruit toast or a choccy bar or a Nudie drink (or all three) if I felt peckish. Plus I chatted about work, life, travel and puppies with grown ups and didn't have to do any cleaning, tidying or clothes folding. Or bottom wiping. was a nice day. Then.... I came home on the train with my book and my (slightly frazzled) husband picked me up at the station with two little girls in the back seat who were pleased to see their mummy. And, best of all, Mummy had extra reserves of love and patience and their little faces seemed extra beautiful and their funny expressions seemed extra hilarious. And tomorrow, I get to do it for the second time this week and then enjoy a big weekend of puppy collecting. I'd better get to bed!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

News flash - we bought a puppy yesterday!

Firstly, thanks to the lovely people who sent "get well" wishes for my family. Husband and little G. are on the mend. And we get our car back with a new door on Tuesday which will be nice.

We had a very exciting morning yesterday - drove to Caboolture (a small country town just north of us) and chose a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppy. He is one of a litter of eight and they were all absolutely gorgeous. Ours is officially called "Mr Darcy" but our big girl has her heart set on calling him "Twinkle Toes"! I think the other dogs at the park may laugh when we call him that! Mr Darcy actually chose us which was gorgeous. He seemed to fall in love with E. straight away while the other puppies just wandered off to play. Of course, we all fell in love with him, too.

The fun begins next Saturday. Part of me is dreading the extra work, mess, responsibility etc but hopefully this will be outweighed by the fun stuff. I guess I may as well have two toddlers and get it over with!
Here are some photos. I'll try not to put the whole 58 on! (Or however many I took!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Choosing to blog about happy stuff

As someone who tends to fall into the trap of dwelling on the negative, I have decided not to blog about the revolting day I had on Wednesday (involving another mother in a 4WD ploughing into my open car door at school dropoff, a husband in bed with flu and a toddler with worsening tonsilitis). I choose, instead, to concentrate on the pleasant time I had pottering in the garden with my little girl earlier in the week. is a brief garden update....

The veges in the first no dig garden are going great guns. The tomatoes are shooting upwards and the silverbeet and eggplants seem to be doubling in size every time I look at them. The coriander has gone to seed (as it always does) but I don't mind because it looks pretty, and hopefully, some baby coriander plants will pop up eventually if the seeds are happy where they fall.

The second little no dig garden is progressing in stages as I never find the time to put all the layers of ingredients on in the one day. So I do a layer of sugar cane mulch one day, scatter on some manure or blood and bone the next, water it in and then next time I find a spare ten minutes, I add the next layer of lucerne mulch. I'm also putting on some compost from our compost heap (very exciting to have one's own compost).

The compost used to be a messy pile near the back fence but is now cooking tidily in two beautiful black plastic compost bins that I bought last week at our gorgeous local garden centre. It's the perfect place to visit with small children. (The garden centre, not the compost heap). It has all the benefits of that ubiquitous fast food place - an undercover playground, cafe, clean toilets with a change table - but is so so much nicer and has added benefits like ducks, a cat or two, lots of huge water dragons and, of course, miles of beautiful plants and garden things to look at. Plus free advice about no dig gardens and compost bins.

I'm tempted to put flowers in the new no dig garden as I have a lavender and two gerbras in pots waiting for a good home, but I think I'll plant some more veges and herbs so we can eat more of what we grow. I have two friends who have made beautiful herb spiral gardens which have included lavender and nasturtiums so perhaps I could do that.

My little garden gnome with tonsilitis has woken up and is sad and feverish, so, to paraphrase the Two Ronnies, it's good bye from me and good bye from Hester's Garden.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Life, death and Paul Kelly lyrics

I have had brief discussions about death with E. before - usually when driving past the huge old cemetery near her cousins' house. But we reached a new depth of detail last week while driving in the car. As usual, we were listening to a Paul Kelly CD (signed by the man himself whose nephew went to our kindy!) which is the favourite car music for both girls.

E. particularly likes a song which we call "My baby lay dying" which I have always worried was slightly inappropriate but never mind - it has a lovely melody! Anyway....this day, E. asked "Mummy, why does he say 'she lives with the worms'?". Deep breath..."Mmmmm well....when you die, the real you goes to heaven and you don't need your body anymore so sometimes it gets buried in a garden and you can grow flowers on top". (I've always liked the idea of pushing up daisies when I die). I continued "And there are worms in the ground, so that's why Paul Kelly sings "She lives with the worms". The questions continued. "But why don't you need your body, Mummy?".

Luckily, for metaphor's sake, E.'s pet snail, Icky, had died a few days earlier. "Well... you know how when Icky died, his body disappeared and we just found his shell? Well, it's a bit like that". (I'm not terribly religious - more of a Mother Nature worshipper who keeps an open mind - but I can't help but revert to comforting religious images when talking to my children about death). E. continues "But...what's the real me, Mummy?" "Oh, all the bits about you that are special....your soul". "And my heart?". "Yep...that too". "But can't you come back to life?". "No one really knows, darling".

E.'s final thought on the matter was "I wish Icky could walk around on the clouds in heaven and fall back to earth again". Low and behold, a day or so later, there was great excitement when E. found a new snail in the garden. At first she thought it was Icky grown much bigger, but now she seems to think it is a new snail who needs a new name. Said snail is now living in a house made of princess lego and likes to escape regularly and perch on top of the turret. All is well in E.'s world and Paul Kelly is still singing...."My baby lay dying"...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Old fashioned childhoods

As a somewhat perfectionist personality (this doesn't mean my house is tidy - just that I agonise over its untidyness!) I constantly obsess over if I am getting mothering right. Thankfully, I know lots of other mothers are doing the same. I've just read Blue's lovely prose/poem (Sept 18) about parenting and it's good to know we are all in the same boat - just doing the best we can. (I'll try and put in the link but I'm still practising). (
So when we have a day without rushing, watching too much tv, eating junk food or playing on the computer I feel like a better mother. My memories of my childhood are so happy (apart from going to new schools, but that's another story). At six, I had the run of the tiny outback town where we lived. We also spent a lot of time on sheep stations, playing in shearing sheds and helping the jackeroos muster on horseback. My parents took us on many many picnics when we would make a fire in a dry creek bed and boil the billy for tea. When I was just a little older, we moved to a slightly bigger town which I was free to explore on my bike as long as I was home before dark. I'm not sure if Mum knew my friends and I were sometimes walking along the railway tracks out of town! Anyway...back to the present moment.
Last week during the school holidays, I swopped children with friends who also work part-time so that our 5 year olds could play with a friend for the day while Mum went to work. It's a great system. So, with my two girls and a young friend, we headed to a seaside town to play on the beach (in brown mud, but that's ok), climb some trees and explore the big playground. We had a great time getting muddy feet, sandy legs and dirty clothes. I tried to take some photographs to capture the children's joy at running free but soon realised that three children running in all directions needed my undivided attention. they are. Three happy children (and one happy mother behind the camera) at the beach.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Official time off for a mum!

Today I am having some official time off! After a few months of being a tired, ill and complaining wife and mother, I took matters in to my own hands and (with my husband's support) booked my darling toddler girl into a few hours of daycare on a Monday to give me some breathing space. Weekends seem to be a whirl of chores and social appointments rather than a time to rest and regroup, although S. and I are coming to realise that the more breaks we can give each other, the happier our family will be. I write, G. is with her wonderful home-based day carer, who also takes care of her and three other little ones on the two days I go to work. Luckily, there were no tears when I dropped her off (unlike when Daddy does it!) and, after 20 minutes of hanging about, I left her happily playing with fluoro coloured lego blocks on a mat outside in the shade. I now have a precious few hours to myself. What to do????? The choices are overwhelming. I did have visions of going to the movies to see The Duchess with Keira Knightly, but that seems a little selfish when the house is an absolute tip and there is a month's worth of paperwork to do. So....I am happily pottering at home, putting on loads of washing, tidying the kitchen, writing cheques, getting quotes for a front fence so we can buy a puppy for our long suffering 5 year old, etc. Of course, I couldn't resist a little blogging fix. I was thrilled to find I had a visitor from Mexico to my blog. Thanks for dropping in! Always good to meet another L.M. Montgomery fan.

Time to go and hang out the washing. Then I might skedaddle to the shops to exchange a birthday present from the gorgeous Peter Alexander pyjama shop. What bliss to look at pretty clothes for me without children demanding sushi and balloons.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Just saying hello

No profound thoughts to share today. Just wanted to say hello to anyone who is out there. I've read that blogging is addictive and it truly is. Not just the chance to express your own thoughts and in the process, clarify them, but the pleasure of dipping into other people's lives and reading about their experiences and having the chance to connect with them. I could wander about the blogosphere for hours (if there weren't clothes to fold, kitchen benches to wipe, small, warm bodies that need bathing and cuddling, cheques to get the picture).

When I set up this blog for fun on my birthday, I sort of forgot to save it in my favourites, so I googled "Hester's garden" to find it. (It didn't work!). By a strange and lovely coincidence, one of the Google results was a quote from the Anne of Green Gables series of books by L. M. Montgomery. By another coincidence, that weekend was the 100th anniversary of the first edition of the original book and there was an article about Prince Edward Island in the travel section of the weekend paper. Those books are old favourites and dear friends of mine. I often turn to them to reread favourite bits and, in my youth, when I had more time and pocketmoney, I used to trawl through second hand book shops and buy lovely old editions. I was fascinated by the way images of Anne changed as new editions were published over the decades. I have my own set of hardbacks from my 1970s childhood, a beautiful 1912 first edition of Chronicles of Avonlea with a watercolour plate of an Edwardian looking Anne, and some 1950s ones with Anne looking like something from an advertisement for household appliances. I also have a 1920s edition of Anne's House of Dreams where she looks like a flapper.

Anyway..... I think it was in Anne of Avonlea that Anne and Diana discover an old overgrown garden that once belonged to a girl named Hester Gray. I had forgotten all about Hester Gray's garden but maybe it was a subconscious influence on my choice of name for my new blog. I've just found the quotation so here it is for anyone who likes that sort of thing .....

Just before them, hemmed in by beeches and firs but open to the south, was a little corner and in it a garden...or what had once been a garden. A tumble-down stone dyke, overgrown with mosses and grass, surrounded it. Along the eastern side ran a row of garden cherry trees, white as a snowdrift. There were traces of old paths still and a double line of rose-bushes throught the middle.....Oh, how perfectly lovely!" three of the girls cried.

I feel inspired to go outside and weed my garden!